College students learn money management after graduation

Sunday, October 16th 2005, 5:37 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Recent college graduates are learning that the working world may teach them more than a higher education ever could.

Some of the professional world's newest players are finding that budgeting and maintaining a 9-to-5-job are learned, not taught_ and sometimes are harder than they look.

Patrick Moore became a college graduate and a newlywed within a month. Moore, whose first post-college job was at an Oklahoma City architectural firm, said although he and his wife immediately sat down and laid out a budget, the cost of post-college life still has its surprises.

``It is amazing how fast that paycheck disappears,'' said Moore, who graduated from the University of Nebraska in May. ``We are learning fast.''

Moore said he is managing to set aside about 10 percent to 15 percent for savings_ after paying insurance, rent, utilities, etc.

But those bills were expected. It was the cost of furnishing a post-college home that nearly knocked Moore out of his lawn chair_ one of two that furnished his home for a time.

``It's expensive to get nice stuff,'' Moore said.

Jesseca McCalla, division director of specialized staffing agency Robert Half International in Oklahoma City, said the cost of living is what shocks most recent grads.

``Most people don't come out making tons of money,'' McCalla said. ``You kind of have to live like a college student.''

Apart from money management, recent grads also struggle with maintaining a regular schedule on the job, McCalla said.

Lindsay Hightower, 23, barely had enough energy to struggle.

``I was just so exhausted the first couple of weeks, I didn't know what to do with myself,'' said Hightower.

Hightower, who graduated with a degree in art history from Dallas' Southern Methodist University in May 2004, is a curatorial associate at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Now in her first post-college job for nearly a year, Hightower said though she is used to her work schedule, dealing with bills is a challenge.

``It's hard,'' she said. ``You just don't realized how (many bills there are).''

McCalla said one way for recent grads to transition more effectively into the work force is to face the workplace with confidence, find a mentor and be prepared for challenges.

Erin Marshall, 22, a May graduate from Oklahoma State University, jumped at the chance to work at 20 Hats, a public relations firm that she interned for in 2004.

``I got really lucky with this job,'' she said. ``I am lucky I did an internship in college.''

Marshall, like many recent grads, said she is slowly learning to budget and be self-reliant.

``It makes you grow up really fast once you get in the working world,'' she said.